When we posted our preview for the 2011 Superhero Movie Showdown, we said that X-Men: First Class was going to be the biggest wildcard of the summer 2011 Movie Season.

The movie had a lot of issues from the get go – a rushed production schedule, a loose interpretation of X-Men lore, no headlining stars, confusion over its continuity – but it also had the promise of  a great director (Matthew Vaughn), some great leading actors (James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender) and the return of X-Men movie guru Bryan Singer to the franchise he started back in 2000.

Now that X-Men: First Class has debuted in theaters to critical acclaim but a lukewarm first-week box office, it seems that all the uproar and debate that erupted in comment threads all over the Internet for years now will end without any clear “winner” being decided. The angry fanboys who claimed the film would be a stillborn bastard weren’t correct in their assessment – and neither were the unabashedly optimistic believers who said the film would be the best X-Men and/or comic book movie ever. As always, the truth ended  up somewhere in the middle…

So, it is that even-keeled middle ground we will stand on as we explore “The 5 Things We Learned from X-Men: First Class.

Before we begin, be sure to read our official X-Men: First Class review to know where we stand in regard to the film.

5. You Can’t Rush a Movie to Greatness

As much as I enjoyed First Class, one thing that irked me while watching it (and will likely irk me forever) was seeing all the points where “the seams” of the film showed through. By “seams,” I mean all the places where there clearly wasn’t time or attention given to touch up a shot, or polish some hokey dialogue; time to sit back and look at the script and decide which themes and aspects of the story were working most effectively (Xavier / Magneto), and which ones needed to be toned down or outright cut from the story (the auxiliary mutants who served little purpose).

If you really watch First Class closely, the lack of revision and refinement slowly becomes more and more apparent. There was definitely a great film in there, somewhere – but unfortunately I don’t believe Matthew Vaughn had adequate time to reach it, despite the praises of some fans and critics.

'First Class' director Matthew Vaughn and co-writer Jane Goldman

Green Lantern and Captain America are two more comic book movies that are racing to meet strict deadlines, and both of them have had longer production schedules than First Class‘s ridiculously short 10-month production schedule. When you have a film that requires a large ensemble cast, shooting locations all over the world, a complicated multi-storyline script, and plenty of effects-heavy action sequences, there needs to be ample time to fit all the many pieces together into a cohesive, polished, final product.From what we’ve heard, Matthew Vaughn’s experience making First Class included everything from on-the-fly script rewrites and reshoots, to eleventh-hour races to get all the effects in place for opening day.

Having been in the writing game for a decade now, I can tell: you can indeed produce something good in a rushed fashion, if the deadline demands it and you have the focus; however, something great absolutely requires time for a creator to be able to step back, assess his/her work, and decide what improvements should be made. Revision is the key to brilliance. You take away that time from any creative artist, and the art is ultimately going to be diminished. First Class was no exception.

Like I said, watching this movie in the future is really going to irk me: there’s nothing worse than looking at what is, while constantly imagining what could’ve been. Just ask my ex-girlfriend about that one ;-).

The bad side of brand recognition…

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